Sunday, March 5, 2017

Cyprian Fernandes Max De Souza, simply Jazz! PART I

Max De Souza
The legendary Augie Alvares and a very young Max De Souza, historic!

Max De Souza
A life in keys, in time, on tone, with timbre!

The man, who once jammed with the great Count Basie and his orchestra, met the likes of Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Eric Clapton and many, many of the greatest stars on the international superstar sky, tells his story

Upright bass   Electric Upright  Bass   Accordion  -  Electric Guitar and Vocals.


Where did you learn to play?
My dad (Moira, Bardez, Goa ) gave me the love of music. My earliest memories of him are of him playing the violin each evening. I sat there completely mesmerized. I watched and listened intently as he made the violin speak and sing in the sweetest sounds. It was particularly special because it was in the quiet of the Nairobi evening… almost magical.  Later he would pick up the guitar and sing his favour song: Forever and Ever My heart will be true (Margaret Whiting, in 1949. He was a great fan of the old big bands and told me their songs would never die.

Today, I still have his precious violin and I can almost see and hear him playing when I  open the case. Dad told me:  “Close your eyes and listen to the song. Learn your instrument, make it your own and perform through your heart.” Those words still hold true for me to this day.

What inspired you ... what musicians, Goans and international?
Naturally, music was a great influence in my life while I was growing up music was a great influence in my life. We lived in Nairobi South C and went to school at Dr Ribeiro’s Goan School in Parklands, a couple bus rides away.

My dad bought me a Hohner 120 bass piano accordion. As soon as I learnt to master it a bit, I met Raymond De Mello, who played some drums and the melodica and Denzel Moraes, a guitarist. We decided to get together and practise for an important “Carnival” during February. It is celebrated with great gusto, colourful costumes, dancing and lots of music in Goa. It is a bit like Halloween, except groups of kids would go house to house singing and playing their instruments in even. Masks and costumes were a must. We had a great time and got paid with loose change and candy. I remember carrying this 120 bass Hohner accordion on my back, Raymond playing the melodica and Denzel playing the guitar. Happy times. Of course, we played more songs at the homes of pretty girls.

I will always treasure my dad’s violin. My very first guitar and start of my musical career was really born with a walk from Nairobi West to South C (three or four kilometres) to the home my friend Ken Pimenta. I asked him if I could trace his Egmund Electric guitar  (the body and the neck) on a newspaper. I then went to a carpenter shop in South B where a kind Sikh took the tracing and routed the body and neck for 10 shillings. It then took me two months to carve the side of the body and the neck. I cut the heads and ends of nails and used the remaining pieces as frets on the neck and the tuning pegs were from an old acoustic guitar. I bought the single pick-up from Assanands.  The strings were from the same acoustic guitar and lo and behold history was born. I used this as a bass guitar at my first gig with the first band "The Hurricanes" with Ronny Victor on guitar, Lawrence Fernandes on lead guitar, me on bass and a drummer whose name I forget. It did the job as I could not afford much at that time. At the age of 18, I bought my very first Eko Bass. 

 My father's violin and below my first two bass guitars

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